This morning I read from Paul David Tripp’s devotional, New Morning Mercies. His encouragement focused on the fact that when God calls us to do something, He always empowers and equips us to do it. I would go further and say that God does it Himself; we are only the vessel. His Holy Spirit is the One who accomplishes anything through our lives that brings glory to God and furthers the kingdom.
At the end of his devotional thoughts, Tripp points us to Nehemiah 6 “for further study.” Nehemiah was tasked by God to return to Jerusalem from exile and build a wall. He faced a lot of opposition, and the job itself was monumentally difficult and physically taxing. Yet, with the help of some faithful Jews, it was accomplished in 52 days, causing their enemies to lose their confidence because they recognized “this work had been accomplished with the help of our God” (Nehemiah 6:15).
I find this chapter in Nehemiah so relevant today. We are in a cultural and spiritual battle on so many levels, and the enemy is ramping up for even greater warfare. Things are not going to get better for those who stand for biblical truth and the gospel. It’s already classified as “hate speech” in many people’s opinions, and it won’t be long before the move to suppress it becomes more overt. We’ve seen how anything that is said or written or broadcast against the politically accepted narrative is “fact-checked” into digital oblivion.
The good news is that the gospel is still just as powerful and cannot be stopped if we are willing to keep preaching it. Nehemiah reveals three specific attacks, and we can learn from his response how to remain faithful to what God has called us to do.
#1 – We must believe the work is more important than any distraction.
Then Sanballat and Geshem sent a message to me, saying, “Come, let us meet together at Chephirim in the plain of Ono.” But they were planning to harm me. So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” (Nehemiah 6:2-3)
The enemy will try to draw our attention elsewhere, to leave the mission. God has called us to do one thing: to proclaim the good news about Jesus. The enemy would like us to think that we can be partners, that we can do God’s work, and also take part in what the world has going on. Don’t buy the lie. Darkness and light cannot walk together. If we are to accomplish the mission of spreading the gospel, we must remain focused and stay where God has put us, doing what He has called us to do. Stay true to the mission.
#2 – We must stand firm against accusations.
Sanballat publicly accused Nehemiah of rebuilding the wall with the intention of becoming king himself. He attacked his reputation and threatened to report his insubordination and treason to King Artaxerxes. Nehemiah stood firm.
Then I sent a message to him, saying, “Such things as you are saying have not been done, but you are inventing them in your own mind.” For all of them were trying to frighten us, thinking, “They will become discouraged with the work and it will not be done.” But now, O God, strengthen my hands. (Nehemiah 6:8-9)
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that when you use whatever small platform you have to speak out against the current cultural narrative, you’d better expect criticism. If we plan to keep proclaiming the gospel, we’d better develop a thick skin and strong backbone. We must recognize that the enemy will use whatever means he can to discourage us from continuing the work God has called us to do, even if it means lying and defaming us. Expect to be called narrow-minded, or ignorant, or out of touch; be ready to be accused of things that simply aren’t true. The gospel isn’t popular. If you’re going to talk about Jesus, or even speak from a biblical perspective, prepare yourself to stand firm.
#3 – We must be uncompromising in our personal lives.
When Nehemiah’s enemies saw that he could not be distracted from his work and that he wasn’t in the least phased about their false accusations, they attacked his personal life. They hired the people closest to him to convince him to run away and hide in the temple, saying he would be killed if he stood his ground. They wanted to destroy his integrity.
He was hired for this reason, that I might become frightened and act accordingly and sin, so that they might have an evil report in order that they could reproach me. (Nehemiah 6:13)
This reminds us of Daniel’s accusers, who tried to get him to sin against God by failing to prayer, out of fear. Know this: the enemy would love to see you fall into sin so that the gospel is seen to be ineffective and weak. He wants to discredit God’s work in you. Personal sin can destroy our testimony. We know the power of God’s grace and forgiveness, but there are always consequences, not the least of which is to derail you from the mission. Be uncompromising in your personal life. Stay away from anything that God calls sin; every temptation is an attack against the gospel you preach and live.
Harder days are coming. Will you stand firm or cave to the enemy’s tactics? God has called us to be faithful workers in His kingdom, to the very end. Will we back down and hide? Or will we persevere, empowered, and emboldened by the Holy Spirit, knowing that God is already the victor, and in the end, He wins.